Howdy! I've been lurking a bit because of being busy with life, but as long as I'm procrastinating this morning while poking at my dissertation, there's a video. Thankfully I was not in that costume, because that costume looks painful.
Thoughts on Los Angeles
I lived in LA for the better part of four years when I was getting my undergraduate degree. My opinion then is my opinion now, which Tolkien said better than I can: "butter scraped over too much bread". There are parts of the city that I adore, that are fun once you get to them, but the problem is that the city, despite being a "car city" has been engineered to not be convenient for people traveling in cars. Only within the past decade has the public transit been promoted and expanded in such a way as to make it possible to get around (parts of the city) underground, which is the only way to avoid the crap that is the freeway system.
Thoughts on the Meeting
The last time our society met in LA was in the 1970s, which I actually find somewhat confusing: there's a museum in the city that has dinosaurs and mammals (sorry, people who work on anything else), alcohol sales laws are generally liberal (sorry, Utah), there's a lot of nearby fossil locations that make good day-long field trips (although they are mostly Cenozoic, so, sorry dinosaur people). So I think the city was a good choice.
The LACM did a fantastic job of running a welcome reception: there were multiple little food serving tables and there were the people costumed as dinosaurs. The alcohol (and even the water) started running out before we were scheduled to leave but that's probably no one's fault.
The host hotel was able to get the meeting mostly organized into one general area: four large adjacent rooms contained the three rooms of talks and one room of posters+exhibitors. Unfortunately, the posters+exhibitors then spread into a nearby kind of hallway, but that's far better than having everything spread out over multiple rooms/buildings (::eyes the Bristol meeting with frustration::).
Also the host hotel had a brewing company with two sets of happy hours. This was very much appreciated.
This year's meeting seems to have been lacking in large announcements. The main talk/poster which appears to be getting media attention was a talk about Deinocheirus being more than just a pair of arms. Which, I'll agree, is ... cool? But it's not the same as recent meetings which featured research stating Archaeopteryx wasn't the oldest-known bird, or that Torosaurus is a junior synonym for Triceratops. Looking at my own notes, one of the more 'ground-breaking' talks I saw had the oldest Cenozoic mammals from Antarctica... which were a few million years older than the previous ones.
Thoughts on Next Year's Meeting
Our society has only met outside of North America (I'm including Mexico as part of North America; deal with it) once before, four years ago in Bristol. Next year it's going to be in Berlin. I have no idea on whether or not there will be a large attendance drop as Norteamericanos scramble to afford traveling to Europe. Bristol didn't see much of an attendance drop because people from NA were primarily replaced by researchers from Europe and Asia and Africa who were suddenly more able to afford going. Those of us who go (I am unsure on if I count myself in that number) will see what happens. Generally, I'm extremely in favor of our international society actually being international and meeting in more countries. Being a graduate student, I'm aware that my comrades and I aren't always able to afford going. Maybe having a live feed of talks might help out... (...note to self, talk to society about that)
Thoughts on WTF I'm doing with my life
As someone who's in the field but hasn't finished all his degrees, I get to be asked by everyone when I am going to finish. This is a good, sometimes not-so-gentle reminder that I can't procrastinate quite as much as I sometimes do. I like my field, I like the research we do, I like the fact that we're able to share our knowledge with a public who generally thinks our research is neat. I just gotta tell myself that actually finishing my PhD is the only way I can continue doing what I like doing.
Petyr Baelish and Three Doctors
So this is a thing that happened.